jack·​leg | \ ˈjak-ˌleg How to pronounce jackleg (audio) , -ˌlāg \

Definition of jackleg

1a : characterized by unscrupulousness, dishonesty, or lack of professional standards a jackleg lawyer
b : lacking skill or training : amateur a jackleg carpenter
2 : designed as a temporary expedient : makeshift

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from jackleg

jackleg noun

Did You Know?

Don't call someone jackleg unless you're prepared for that person to get angry with you. Throughout its more than 150-year-old history in English, jackleg has most often been used as a term of contempt and deprecation, particularly in reference to lawyers and preachers. Its form echoes that of the similar blackleg, an older term for a cheating gambler or a worker opposed to union policies. Etymologists know that blackleg appeared over a hundred years before jackleg, but they don't have any verifiable theories about the origin of either term.

Examples of jackleg in a Sentence

a toolshed that can be built by any jackleg carpenter who's capable of hitting a nail without smashing his thumb he did such a jackleg installation of that door frame that now the door won't shut

First Known Use of jackleg

1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for jackleg

jack entry 1 + -leg (as in blackleg)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about jackleg

Time Traveler for jackleg

Time Traveler

The first known use of jackleg was in 1833

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about jackleg

Statistics for jackleg

Cite this Entry

“Jackleg.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jackleg. Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on jackleg

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jackleg

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jackleg

Nglish: Translation of jackleg for Spanish Speakers

Comments on jackleg

What made you want to look up jackleg? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!